| LONDON, July 26
LONDON, July 26 While many corporate backers of
the Olympics hope some of the fairy dust from the Games will rub
off on their brands, Dow Chemical is taking a decidedly
hard-nosed approach to its sponsorship in the face of criticism
over its links with the Bhopal disaster.
"This is an investment, not a sponsorship," George Hamilton,
the Dow executive in charge of its Olympic operations told
Reuters in an interview as he rejected the Bhopal criticism as
Dow is one of 11 international Olympic sponsors who have
global marketing rights to the Games. They each pay an estimated
$100 million for a four-year cycle covering a winter and summer
The company signed up in July 2010 so London is its first
sponsorship of any Games. The next winter Games will be held in
the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi, with the next summer Games
in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Hamilton pointed out that as the games roadshow moves on to
Russia and Brazil it will take the chemicals group into
high-growth markets with a need for the materials and building
products that Dow makes - everything from roofing membranes to
insulation and artificial playing surfaces.
Aside from the bright blue and pink surface of the hockey
pitches, Dow also stepped in to provide the wrap that adorns the
outside of the main Olympic stadium after the London organisers
could not find the 7 million pounds to give the finishing touch
to what was a rather industrial-looking stadium.
In an interview with Reuters, Hamilton said the investment
in infrastructure linked purely to the summer and winter Olympic
events up to 2020 is estimated at $100 billion.
Beyond that, by some measures there is an infrastructure
spending need in Russia of roughly $1 trillion and in Brazil of
$500 billion and Dow thinks its involvement in the Games will
translate directly into winning a piece of that.
"In growth territories like Russia, using the high profile
of the Olympics, it gives Dow instant awareness and reputation,
not for the Olympics but for the post-Games build," he said.
"We've set an objective from a 10-year partnership of an
additional $1 billion of incremental revenues. We're well on
The 10-year deal is a long one by sponsorship standards,
especially in such uncertain economic times, but Hamilton has no
doubts about the benefits.
"It's going to take that long for Dow to achieve the type of
commercial returns we want for this project," he said. "We need
a longer runway than a more traditional sponsor who is more
The criticism over Bhopal stems from Dow's acquisition of
Union Carbide almost a decade after that company settled
litigation linked to the gas leak at its Indian unit which
killed and injured thousands. It is widely regarded as one of
the world's worst industrial catastrophes.
"I have sympathy and empathy for the people of Bhopal,"
Hamilton said. "It was a horrific incident. I don't have empathy
and sympathy for the ativists and protesters and their attempt
to tie it to Dow... Dow was not there."